Rugged Individualist. Certified USA Triathlon Coach & NASM Personal Trainer, Men's Self Improvement Coach. President of Go Farther Sports. National Ranked Triathlete & 100 Mile Grand Slam Ultrarunner, only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Introducing a new Class!!! Trail Running to Improve Both Your Trail and Road Races

Well, it's time to announce the first class in 2013. Classes will be a relatively new thing for me although I have done some informal classes in the past. This will be the first time I've announced a class to the general public.

And I promise it will be exciting!

I lead groups through the Greenbelt every week with the free programs described below from SIAC for beginners, so it's not a new thing for me since the format is similar.

With that said, one of the beliefs that I have tested in the past involves trail running itself. Some runners fear the trails, some tend to poo-poo it, and some are worried about injuries while running. So trail running has, in its past, been like a kid sister to road racing in this area.

I can understand this. It's an urban area. There are a lot more roads than trails in NY and in NJ. It's easier to just get out the door and do a quick run, then chance back and get to work in the morning. You might need to drive to a trailhead to access the trails which might take up some of your busy time. And you can easily figure out your pace on the roads.

But from what I see, trail running has made a revival, even in this area of cement and asphalt. NJ has its parks where races can be held. The Holiday Marathons utilize the trails in Van Cortland Park.

And we Staten Islanders have our Greenbelt!

What is great about the Greenbelt is that it's big enough so that every Staten Islander has access to its trails within 2 miles of his or her house, so it's easy to just lace on a pair of shoes, head on out for a warm-up on the road leading to the Park, then pick up the pace once you get to the trails.

And trail races are starting to become the norm here.

The fears that some runners look bigger than they really are. The fear that you might get hurt will go away if you gradually get accustomed to the trails. Most of those who poo-poo trail running tend to never really try it seriously, or just have a closed mind to it.

But trail running will get you to places that no car or road will bring you. I've been to places with such spectacular scenery that it provides an exclamation point to why trail running is so cool. Take a look at these tell me where on the road will you find these shots?

Cold Feat 10k - 2012

Moses Mountain - New Year 2012 - Night Time Trail Running, it's quite an experience!

Bald Mountain at Bear Mountain State Park - the nearly 1000 foot climb is worth it!

Leadville 100 - Hope Pass, what a spectacular view! Nope that's not me, but there will be a similar picture with me in it in August 2013.

For those who are reluctant to take to the trails due but are willing to try, the Staten Island Athletic Club has a beginners program for those who would like to try trail running. We run out of High Rock Park. Beginners are more than welcome to try trail running out. We stay as one group, stay at an easy pace, and nobody gets dropped. Plus being in the group will expose you to other people who have been enjoying the trails since this program was put into place 1.5 years ago. And, for the more advanced, we also invite runners to try the trails at night also with our Wednesday Night Runs out of Willowbrook Road. Headlamps are required and we go at a very easy pace.

Thanks to the program, we now have very experienced trail runners in the club. It's great to see people who started trails just a year or so ago really get better on these trails.

Now I offer an advanced program for those who want to take the next level up in trail running. Evidence is mounting that excelling in trail running not only improves your trail race time, but also your road race times as well.

It has to do with improved balance that is needed on the trails. Unlike roads, the ground is uneven, sometimes with rocks and roots involved. And each step on the trail recruits more stabilizer muscles to keep you upright on the trails. As a result, you become a much stronger, better balanced, and therefore a MORE EFFICIENT runner.

And this increased efficiency translates well to road running also. If you're more efficient, you're more economical, you waste less energy, and therefore your times should drop.

And that's why this class will gear up for both a tough trail race in February (Cold Feat 10k) and a particularly hilly road race in April (Indian Trails 15k). At the end of this class those hills in both races should be less of a problem to tackle.

The class will start on Sunday December 16 and will run through 16 weeks, mostly on Sundays, to the beginning of April and the Indian Trails race. It will be broken down into four, 4 week segments, each with a slightly different theme. Here's how it will be broken down:

Week 1-4: Trail Running Basics (how to run at a faster pace, uphill and downhill trail running, mechanics and arm movement)

Week 5-8: Building Endurance (increasing your mileage on tougher trails, how to coordinate your trail training with road training, and a steady diet of hills to test your mettle)

Week 9-12: Building your Speed (increase hand-eye coordination on technical trails, so that you can "dance" easily over rocks and roots, how to tackle uphills and dowhills at a fast pace, and the final prep for the Cold Feat 10k in February).

Week 13-16: Putting it All together (Endurance and Speed together in perfect harmony, increased toughness over technical trails, honing your prowess on hills, and kicking some major butt at the Indian Trails 15k Road Race.

The class is only $40 every 4 weeks. If you do miss a class, I can keep you up to speed with what the group did on that Sunday you didn't go so that you can have the chance to go to the Greenbelt or some other trails and do the workout for yourself, and to keep you updated for the next class.

I will be posting more details of this class here in the near future. In the meantime, you can sign up either by letting me know on Facebook or you can email me at or phone me at 347-996-0588.

Let's kick some butt next year!

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